2009 Erie SeaWolves Season in Review

It was a bittersweet year for the Tigers' Double-A affiliate. There were a ton of things to be excited about, a ton of things that went right, and a lot of players that accelerated through the player development process faster than most might have expected.

On the other hand, it always seemed like disaster was lurking around the corner waiting to chop their heads off. This may seem a little pessimistic, all things considered, but it's mostly true.

The team suffered a series of injuries that ultimately became far too much for them to overcome.

Ryan Strieby missed 55 games due to lingering pain in his surgically repaired hamate. Mike Hollimon, who was considered one of the better prospects in this organization as recently as two years ago, basically fell off the map after being limited to just 29 games after suffering a series of injuries this season.

Duane Below, Thad Weber, Luis Marte, and a multitude of others also missed significant time due to injury.

All things considered, it's amazing that the SeaWolves even had a chance heading into the final weeks of the season. Most teams faced with these types of obstacles would falter and burn under the circumstances, so it speaks volumes about the character of these individuals.

Obviously one of the bigger story lines of the season in Erie was the emergence of Brennan Boesch.

Entering the season Boesch had just 22 career homeruns in 1,320 career plate appearances. This year he hit 28 in 571. That's drastic improvement.

"Brennan had the most growth about of anybody on this team," manager Tom Brookens said. "I was with him before and he didn't hit the ball like that. He hit the ball as hard as anybody we saw this season."

Park factors need to come into play when evaluating Boesch, but even if his power numbers are a little lofty due to playing in the extremely friendly Jerry Uht Park (where he hit 19 of his homers), he still showed significant growth across the board.

He lifted his average up to a respectable .275 from the .249 he posted last season in Lakeland.

Boesch wasn't always the star of this offense, though. Early on it looked like it was going to be Strieby's team.

He missed all those games and still managed to finish fourth in home runs. He didn't qualify for the batting title, but had he of he would of finished sixth in the league. His .427 OBP would have finished second and his .565 slugging percentage would have topped the league. That's the kind of season he was having.

Unfortunately he fell victim to a series of injuries involving his surgically repaired hamate bone and couldn't find a way to stay on the field. If he had, there were strong wishpers from the Tigers front office that he would have been called up in at least two difference situations to fill the void created by injuries.

The most pleasant surprise on the offensive side of things had to be Michael Bertram.

Bertram was called up in July from Lakeland almost as a last resort, but he took advantage of the situation presented to him and hit the ball better than anybody on the team down the stretch.

In 33 games with Erie, Bertram posted a .283/.353/.585 line with eight homers and 30 RBI.

"Bertram was huge for us. Who would have thought? As far as player development goes, he really improved his stock this summer with his play here," Brookens said.

Then of course there was Cale Iorg who, no matter how you cut it, has to be considered a disapointment.

His defense was as good as it gets despite the fact that he commited 25 errors. Many of those wouldn't have never been scored errors if Iorg didn't have ridiculous range.

It's his bat that needs work.

It doesn't matter who you are or what prism you are viewing things through, a .222/.274/.336 batting line isn't what you want out of a player you have so much invested into.

Walking 32 times against 149 strike outs doesn't scream out ‘prospect'.

However, Iorg is a prospect, and pretty big one. That should tell you how good his glove is.

There really wasn't much pitching left in Erie by the end of the season.

Thad Weber ended the season injured and is slated to head off to the Arizona Fall League. This is a guy that basically put himself on the map and organizational fast track with a single performance, when he threw a no-hitter against Akron on Aug. 22.

Weber has the stuff to be a great player. He strikes a ton of guys out and doesn't walk too many, so if he has a strong showing in Arizona he could start the season in Toledo.

Cody Satterwhite was also supposed to be heading to Arizona, but it looks like his health will prevent him from doing so. Satterwhite had a pretty solid season and was starting to put things together before he hit the DL in August and struggled to come back.

He only allowed one run in July, and struck out 13 while walking six, by far his best season of the month.

"Satterwhite just needs to learn how to pitch," Brookens said. "He can throw as hard as anybody, he's a big time, big time prospect. He's going to be great in this organization."

It was a good season for Erie. There's a lot to be excited about if you are the Tigers.

As far as Brookens is concerned, he plans to be back in Erie next season teaching the game to another crop of prospects.

"The only way I'm not coming back is if they tell me to stay home."


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